Burcht van Oostvoorne

The turbulent and unsafe Middle Ages caused people to need a safe "haven. Therefore, the first castles arose, with thick walls on an artificial, moated hill - a motte castle. In Oostvoorne you can still find such a castle, one of the oldest remaining in the Netherlands. 



Year built

12th century


Hugo van Voorne

Past function

In defense of the island of Oostvoorne




One of the oldest castles in the Netherlands

Owned by Monumentenbezit

Since 2016

Wheelchair accessible


Visitor information

The Oostvoorne Cultural Events Foundation opens the Burcht on Wednesday and Friday afternoons and all day Saturday. Guided tours can be organized for groups. Please contact the foundation for this at info@evenementenoostvoorne.nl

Visiting address:

Hoflaan 3-5, 3233 AN Oostvoorne

The remaining ruins of Oostvoorne Castle are one of the oldest remaining castles in the Netherlands. It is a textbook example of a motte castle; a castle or fortress on top of a hill. This particular type of castle originated in the High Middle Ages, in which small wars, continuously changing power relations and natural disasters played a major role. This increased the need for protection.

From the twelfth century, therefore, the first form of the castle of Oostvoorne emerged. This structure in wood and later in stone, was a simple, defensible residential tower (donjon). What did the castle once look like? To defend the island of Oostvoorne, a ten-meter high residential tower with walls almost three meters thick was built. In front of the castle was an outer bailey, the Hof van Voorne, which included the knight's hall, a chapel, stables, kitchens and a bathhouse. Here the court and workmen resided. 

Many measures had been taken to properly defend the building. For example, there were iin the floor, through which one could bombard enemies who were at the bottom of the wall with stones, hot oil or pitch. The two towers on thering wall also provided reinforcement against enemies. The castle was located on a hill, around which a moat was built. Thus, the entrance with gatehouse, at the bottom of the hill, could be well defended. From the gatehouse, one could reach the walled castle square via stairs.

Most 'mottekastelen' could not outgrow their first, primitive stage and soon disappeared. Few of the towers that did develop during the late Middle Ages have survived. Of the castle of Oostvoorne, only the moat mound and parts of the walls remain.

In written sources little can be found about the castle of Oostvoorne. It is not known exactly when the castle was founded. We do know who the founders and residents were, namely the Lords and Women of Voorne. Despite the rather short period in which they ruled, they were of undeniable importance to Dutch architectural history. It is thanks to this family that today we can admire the foundations of one of the oldest 'mottekastelen'. But who were they?

The family's relationship with Oostvoorne begins with the brothers Floris (1156-1174) and Dirk van Voorne (ca. 1175-1189). The son of Dirk, Hugo van Voorne (1189-1213), is mentioned as a possible founder of the castle. This suspicion stems from the fact that his house at Poortvliet was razed to the ground during the Loon War (1203-1206). After the Loon War, Hugo reportedly had the castle at Oostvoorne built as a new home.

After the foundation of the castle, the van Voorne family remained an influential family for two centuries. The family ruled from the castle as viscounts of Zeeland over the area between Holland and Zeeland. They had great prestige, because a viscount was the second highest noble of Zeeland, right after the count.

The main responsibility of the Lords of Voorne was to act as deputy to the count in his absence. But the van Voornes also played an active role in administrative matters. In doing so, they devoted themselves to the development of the area. They protected the land from floods by embanking polders, built churches and promoted trade by granting Brielle city rights. The van Voornes provided economic prosperity and wealth. However, the van Voorne family did not enjoy their powerful position for long; in 1372 the van Voorne family died out with the death of the childless widow Machteld van Voorne.

After the extinction of the dynasty of Voorne in the 14th century, the castle came to be in the territory of the Count of Holland. The building was no longer really inhabited. A well-known occupant was Jacoba van Beieren (1401-1436), who became countess of Holland in 1417. Although she was not often found at the castle, it was nicknamed Jacoba Castle. Her husband, Frank van Borselen, did visit the castle regularly. Here he practiced falconry.

After Van Borselen's death, the castle came into the hands of the Burgundian Duke Charles the Bold. The duke, and later his widow, invested in refurbishing the castle. Emperor Charles V, who became the owner of the castle around 1503, continued the restoration. To no avail. By 1534, the motte castle had fallen into such disrepair that the outer bailey was sold for demolition. In 1552, the residential tower was partially demolished for fear of an impending French invasion. This was because the enemy would be able to easily orient themselves with the help of the tall building. The castle was then covered with earth and the land was sold to erect a lighthouse on it, which eventually never came to be.

In 1842, the state purchased the remains. The foundations of the castle were then buried under a layer of sand. Almost one hundred years later, in 1934, the sand mound was excavated and then examined by Jan Kalf (1873-1954) of the then State Office for the Preservation of Monuments. It eventually took more than 25 years to rebuild the existing foundations several meters back. Especially the tracing of the large stones of the castle, which had been dragged away by "privateers" to build a shed or a wall at home, took a lot of time.

Today, the thousands of rebricked stones again give an impression of the size, layout, construction method and construction history of the motte castle. Since 2016, the castle has been owned by Monumentenbezit. We maintain the castle and make it publicly accessible.

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